The New Orleans Saints appear to have reached a decision not to exercise Running Back Mark Ingram's 5th year option. Head Coach Sean Payton stated last week that the team had not yet made such a decision, though it was always unlikely they would elect to go that route as Ingram would have been scheduled to earn over $5 million in 2015 would the option be picked up.
The Saints still like Ingram's potential and are confident he will continue to progress as a runner.However, given the free agent market for Running Backs did not top the $4 million mark this offseason, opting to wait and negotiate a long-term deal at a more manageable rate is a no-brainer for the Saints. The Saints won't be exercising Mark Ingram's 5th year option for 2015.
Ingram remains firmly in the team's plans moving forward, but should continue to operate within the team's committee-like approach at the Running Back position. Pierre Thomas, Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet will all be competing for carries next season, and the team could look to further bolster their depth and competition via the draft and undrafted free agent pool next month. Even after the team's decision to trade scatback Darren Sproles to the Eagles, Ingram figures to play a similar role to last season, making the odds of him demanding a salary near what the option year would pay him very slim.
Mark Ingram will now look to play out the final year of his rookie deal in 2014, with an eye on next year's free agent market giving him every incentive to perform to the best of his abilities. Though fellow 2011 first-rounder Cam Jordan had his option year picked up last week, that move made much more sense for the franchise from a financial standpoint. The team hopes to keep hold of both Ingram and Jordan for years to come. Still just 24, Ingram has several years ahead of him should he continue to develop as a consistent and reliable threat on the ground.
Mark Ingram rushed for 386 yards on 78 carries and a touchdown in 2013, with the former Heisman trophy winner saving his best production for the end of season run-in and playoffs. NFL teams have until may 3 to decide whether or not to exercise the 5th year option on their 2011 first round picks.